2017 Cat Cafe aCATemy Awards

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It's awards season and that can only mean one thing.

It's time for the first annual Cat Cafe aCATemy Awards, informally known as 'The Pawscars.'

On our quest to visit and review every cat cafe in the world, The Neighbor's Cat dropped by 118 cat cafes across three continents in 2017.  In the process, we met amazing cats and humans, enjoyed delicious food and coffee and sat in some gorgeous spaces.  Most were great experiences, but some were paw-sitively outstanding and we think these cat cafes should be recognized for their efforts.

In keeping with the categories used on the website, a Pawscar will be awarded for the following:

  • Best Cats
  • Best Food & Drink
  • Best Staff
  • Best Facility
  • Best Overall Cat Cafe

So, without further ado, the nominees are:

Best Cat Cafe Cats 

The Best Cats award combines a variety of factors including cuteness, friendliness and sociability.  This year's nominees vary greatly regarding the type of cats in residence, ranging from kittens (Pounce, Cat Lounge) to rescued moggies (Cat Village North, Ronron Cafe) to pedigreed felines (Monta, Cat Apartment Coffee), proving there is no one best formula.

Nominees

And the Pawscar goes to:

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Cat Lounge Dublin, Dublin Ireland

This all-kitten cat cafe might have an unfair advantage, but Cat Lounge Dublin simply takes adorable to new heights with super playful and cuddly kitties that filled me with so much joy, I floated around the streets of Dublin for hours afterwards.

Best Cat Cafe Food/Drink

From high-end coffee to gourmet meals, there are cat cafes that make the cafe side of things as memorable as the cats.  I'm all about the kitties, but can't live on love alone.  At the very least, I'm going to need a coffee from time to time, preferably decent.  Zur Mieze, Kissakahvila Purnauskis, Tabby Teas and Cat Apartment Coffee have some of the best java I've tasted in any cafe, cat or otherwise, while Le Darwin, Le Chat l'Heureux, Kissakahvila and Nurri all prepared food of outstanding caliber.

Nominees

And the Pawscar goes to:

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Le Darwin, Troyes France

I'm still dreaming about the epicurean delights from this lovely cafe, made even more special by a couple of kitty lap visitors.  My meal started with a delicious appetizer/amuse bouche of garlic sauce topped with croutons and radish while my main, an Oeuf frite (soft boiled egg coated in crumbs and fried, like a Scotch egg) topped with bacon was divine perfection.  

For dessert I indulged in a crusty almond cupcake split in two and topped with a dense white chocolate frosting and mango sauce, plus a side of icy lemon sorbet adorned with bits of salt, merengue and candied lemon peel.  It was very sweet but nicely balanced by the citrus and various textures.  

Award-worthy, indeed.

Best Cat Cafe Staff

No matter how lovely the cats, the friendliness and engagement of cat cafe staff can mean the difference between an average visit and a memorable one.  I'm not suggesting staff need to become BFF's with every patron, however, even an apathetic attitude can really affect the atmosphere. 

Sometimes, staff are just plain friendly, or go the extra mile by providing insider tips on the cats like which ones likes belly rubs or lap time.  Sometimes, they are happy to talk about the cat cafe business.  Our best experiences have a common denominator when it comes to the staff- personable cat lovers who care that your experience is a good one.

The overwhelming majority of cat cafe staff are just that, and this category was really difficult as my initial list had over 30 nominees!   I respect what you are doing so much, you are all winners!

Nominees

And the Pawscar goes to:

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Tabby Teas

Tabby Teas is a top cat cafe, but what really sets them apart from other cat cafes are the people.  All of the staff are lovely, but the owner Charlotte is exceptional.  A fun, energetic and kind cat-lover, she was born to run a cat cafe and her personality and thoughtful nature is apparent in the atmosphere of the cafe- open, sunny and cool. It was all so inviting and charming, and I was also impressed by the sense of community present- a vibe the big coffee chains seem to force, but at Tabby Teas feels completely natural.

While they have only been open since July, Charlotte was a wealth of knowledge as we discussed all things cat cafe- from creating a cat-friendly space (lots of places to get up high), to how she was able to do an open coffee bar area (food is all prepared off-site), to entertaining stories about her furry charges, our conversation was a highlight of 2017.

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Best Cat Cafe Facility

A cat cafe doesn’t need to be posh to be a great, but being clean, tidy and odor free is compulsory. 

The best cafes tend to have an uncluttered, cozy interior with warm lighting and an atmosphere that makes it a pleasure to relax with a cup of coffee while watching the cats.

Nominees

And the Pawscar goes to:

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Koneko

Minimalist style is heavily associated with today's sense of cool and Koneko is one of the hippest cat cafes out there.  While the aesthetic of the cafe is sleek and spare with lots of polished concrete, the soft lighting, warm wooden furniture and bright red cushions make it a cozy, comfortable place to hang with the kitties. 

But this is also a cat cafe and happily, the environment is also functional for felines, with an abundance of elevated wall perches, cat trees and napping spots.  However, what impressed me the most was the cafe's zen-like atmosphere, a model of quiet and calm that after several days amidst the chaos that is NYC, I found myself never wanting to leave.

Best Overall Cat Cafe

Nominees

I guess I'm lucky that it was difficult to award the top prize because it means we visited many excellent cat cafes in 2017.   However, after much deliberation, only one cafe appeared in every category which made the final decision slightly easier.

And the Pawscar goes to:

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Kissakahvila Purnauskis

I knew this cafe, modeled after an old-fashioned tea room, was special from the first moment I walked in the door.  The space is light, bright and airy with tall ceilings, high quality wood furnishings and lovely vintage decor.  A lush purple carpet and great music selection (jazz standards by Etta James and Ray Charles) offset any hint of granny-style twee by keeping things cozy and sophisticated.  

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If I thought I was impressed by the atmosphere, then the cats completely blew me away.  Carefully chosen for their diverse personalities, these rescued kitties take the cat cafe concept to the next level.  Social, curious and full of energy, the seven felines in residence took turns making me smile including  Micu, a fluffy tabby that enjoys head scratches while sitting next to you on the red settee, Piki-Nelli, a black ball of floof that likes to chase a feather toy.  Then, there's the creamsicle colored ginger with the best name ever:  Baron von Cream.  Rare for a first visit, I really felt like I got to know them.  

The high marks continued with lunch.  It was difficult to choose (everything sounded so good), but ultimately selected the tasting menu with a goat cheese/chili jam on toasted brown bread starter, a hearty carrot soup topped with creme fraiche for my main and finally Tiger cake (a traditional Finnish chocolate and vanilla bundt topped with almond crunch and chocolate syrup) for dessert served with a great cup of strong Nordic coffee.

Finally, I can't say enough about the staff.  From our warm greeting at the door, to showing us which toy Piki-Nelli finds irresistible to making sure we had enough coffee, these friendly folks demonstrated tremendous care for both their kitty and human charges.

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There just aren't enough su-purr-latives to lavish upon Kissakahvila Purnauskis, it's simply one of the best cat cafes in the world. 

CONGRATULATIONS!